With star signed, LAFC shift focus to Sporting KC

League: MLS

Posted on: 09 Mar, 2024 at 06:09 AM

Credit: Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club will host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night knowing the questions surrounding Denis Bouanga's future have been settled.

Bouanga won the 2023 MLS Golden Boot by scoring 20 goals in his first full season for LAFC. However, he was only the league's 23rd-highest-paid player, according to figures provided by the MLS Players Union, and the 29-year-old Frenchman spoke about wanting to move back to Europe during the winter.

That might have been a negotiating tactic. LAFC (1-1-0, 3 points) announced on Friday that they signed Bouanga to a two-year contract extension through 2027 with an option for 2028. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Denis has made an incredible impact on LAFC and our league over the last two seasons and has been critical to our success," LAFC general manager John Thorrington said in a statement. "We are excited to see one of the best players in the league make this long-term commitment to LAFC and continue our commitment to winning championships in Los Angeles."

Bouanga has yet to score this season for LAFC, who opened the campaign with a 2-1 home victory against the Seattle Sounders, then lost 3-0 in snowy conditions at Real Salt Lake last weekend.

However, after LAFC lost the MLS Cup final and CONCACAF Champions League final last season and failed to qualify for this year's CONCACAF Champions Cup, the Black-and-Gold remain dangerous, Sporting manager Peter Vermes said.

"They're a different team than they were last year," Vermes said. "They're fresh, and they probably feel very good that they can play week to week right now and have a good buildup, the right proper rest, that type of thing. So they're a different team, and they have a different level of energy in the way that they're playing."

Kansas City (0-0-2, 2 points) is also healthier than at the beginning of the 2023 campaign when the team earned only three points in its first 10 games (0-7-3).

This season, Sporting Kansas City have drawn 1-1 at the Houston Dynamo and at home against the Philadelphia Union, two fellow 2023 playoff teams. Remi Walter and Erik Thommy have scored the goals, while striker Alan Pulido is sitting on a streak of seven appearances in all competitions without scoring dating back to last year.

--Field Level Media